A warning, a movement, a collection borne of protest.
In Watch Your Head, poems, stories, essays, and artwork sound the alarm on the present and future consequences of the climate emergency. Ice caps are melting, wildfires are raging, and species extinction is accelerating. Dire predictions about the climate emergency from scientists, Indigenous land and water defenders, and striking school children have mostly been ignored by the very institutions – government, education, industry, and media – with the power to do something about it.
Writers and artists confront colonization, racism, and the social inequalities that are endemic to the climate crisis. Here the imagination amplifies and humanizes the science. These works are impassioned, desperate, hopeful, healing, transformative, and radical.
This is a call to climate-justice action.
This anthology is not to be missed. The pandemic may have defined our year, but the climate crisis defines our time in geological history. See how this roster of talented writers and artists advance the conversation, put the crisis in context and call for climate justice.
IF TINY CRYSTALS FORM CLOSE TO THE EARTH’S SURFACE THEY FORM DIAMOND DUST
My antler heart grows hooves.
I follow the lead from the pack.
Find shelter in a drunken forest--
what species isn’t at risk.
Insulating properties of snow
keep me warm--
trapped air between each flake.
With body heat and earth-transfer heat
my home becomes a snowbank.
It’s not the hare’s scream
it’s the antecedent silence.
we fill ourselves up
with slow-banked health
push off the not needed
with the growth behind it
we tick silent rings
inside our own xylem clocks
each wound is sealed
with home-spun adhesive
we synthesize sunshine to a flameless fire
we shed to survive to burn spring green
All parts have a line
with never end.
a shatter zone.
Cries by a gate can’t
slip out, they hover.
Hold blue in your hands.
Go on, cup sky. This isn’t illusion.
The sound of absence is your boat
coming in. The work is in the meadow.
It’s hard to put past in a safe place.
Some eyes see, if not birds.
“If Tiny Crystals Form Close to The Earth’s Surface They Form Diamond Dust” first published in the UK literary journal Stag Hill Literary Journal
“The Trees” first published in the LCP anthology: Heartwood: a League of Canadian Poets Anthology
“Intersections” published in the online UK journal/website Burning House Press
Catherine Graham is an award-winning Toronto-based writer. Her sixth poetry collection, The Celery Forest, was named a CBC Best Book of the Year, appears on the CBC Books Ultimate Canadian Poetry List and was a finalist for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insect was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award and the CAA Poetry Award. Her debut novel Quarry won an Independent Publisher Book Awards gold medal for fiction, “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Best Fiction and was a finalist for the Sarton Women’s Book Award for Contemporary Fiction and the Fred Kerner Book Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto where she won an Excellence in Teaching Award and is a previous winner of the Toronto International Festival of Authors’ Poetry NOW competition. Æther: an out-of-body lyric will appear in 2020 with Wolsak and Wynn. Visit her at www.catherinegraham.com Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @catgrahampoet
OCTOPO AND TEUTHIET
Two octopoteuthis deletron squid collided in the Pacific depths at sunset in July. Each
one mirrored the other, with a shimmering, voluptuous, sperm-plastered mantle, and
engorged arms bursting with come-hither barbs. The squid fell deeply in love. But soon
they found themselves unable to feed. Both deletrons were inevitably drawn to hunting
the other, now possessing the only flesh each craved in all the ocean. They pledged a vow
of starvation, lest they risk consuming each other. With every passing wave, their bodies
grew less sumptuous; their love more incandescent.
And one November morning, both flesh and love were gone.
reflects no octopus;
its sand-blessed face now blasted
to the harvest, swarm on
the bars of a vintage metal
an octopus would shun
the primitive lenses; covet
recreate your branchial arcs
li’l miss mermaid!
this octopus has one
dinglehopper your museum
to the white king.
a tentacular caress.
untrained suckers, swords are
more direct and less efficient
half-submerged in white sand,
could an octopus measure a
seashells in a
frame an abalone portrait
BREEDING GROUNDS: EMPTY CALORIES
so much depends
the Greenland shark
its toxic jaws
Rasiqra Revulva is a queer femme writer, multi-media artist, editor, musician, performer, SciComm advocate, and one half of the glitch-art and experimental electronic duo The Databats. If You Forget the Whipped Cream, You're No Good As A Woman (Gap Riot Press, 2018) is her second chapbook. She is currently adapting her first chapbook Cephalopography (words(on)pages press, 2016) into her debut collection, to be published by Wolsak & Wynn in spring 2020. Learn more at: @rasiqra_revulva and @thedatabats.
WHETHER THE HEAVENS BREAK
WHETHER THE HEAVENS BREAK
WHETHER THE BROKEN CLOUDS ACCUMULATE ENOUGH
AUDIENCE TO DEBUT AT TIFF
WHETHER CURIOUS CUMULI INCUBATE OUR ATTENTION
WHETHER THE WEATHER BURSTS FORTH
LIKE HEAVEN'S GATES
LOCKING DOWN ALL THE LATCHES
WHETHER WATER AND ETHER COMBINED
MAKE A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET
WHETHER DUSK IS UPON US SOONER
RATHER THAN LATER
WHETHER YOU PREFER HURRICANES OVER HEAT WAVES
MONSOONS OVER ICE MELTS
WHETHER YOU HARVEST FRUIT FROM THE FOREST FLOOR OR
WITHERED ON WIZENED VINES
WHETHER YOU PINE FOR YOUR MUSKOKA CHILDHOOD
WHETHER PILEATED WOODPECKERS DELIGHT YOU
EITHER THE CONTINUOUS PRESENT OR THE LOOMING FUTURE
EITHER SOME OF THEM
OR ALL OF US
WHETHER TRUTH WAVERS BEFORE SIX-DOLLAR LATTES
AND MAUVE MACARONS
WHETHER IT WAS A TOTAL BLOCKBUSTER
WHETHER YOU'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT
WHETHER THE SKY GETS DARKER THAN "BREAKING BAD"
WHETHER REALITY IS A MALEVOLENT COLOSSUS
COMING ON LIKE AN ADORABLE BABY LION
WHETHER SUPERWINDSTORMS MAKE THE RATINGS RISE
WHETHER THE DEADLINE PREMIERE
IS A NO-HOLDS-BARRED DOCUMENTARY ON SUBLIME
DO WE HAVE OUR TICKET IN ADVANCE
DO WE HAVE OUR SEAT RESERVED
DO WE HAVE A COVETED SPOT BESIDE THE RED CARPET
WHETHER WE LIKE COMEDIES
WHETHER THE FILMMAKER WAS FUNDED
BY A FRACKING CONGLOMERATE
OR A BRAZILIAN MINING CONSORTIUM
WHETHER THE CLIMAX IS A MASS SHOOTING EVENT
THAT SOUNDED LIKE A RUNAWAY TRAIN
THAT BARRELLED INTO CANADIAN TIRE
LIKE A BLOOD AVALANCHE AT NIAGARA
WE'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT EVER BEFORE
STEP RIGHT THIS WAY
STEP INTO THE HARSH GLARE
OF THE BIGGEST SHOW ON EARTH
WHETHER WHATEVER WE DREAM
IS JUST LIKE A MOVIE
WHETHER IT IS ALL JUST LIKE CUTTING-EDGE CINEMA
WHETHER WE'RE ON 24/7 CANDID CAMERA
ALONG WITH FACIAL RECOGNITION
HOW ABOUT GLACIAL RECOGNITION
OR WILL THAT SPOIL THE PLOTLINE FOR US
WHETHER IT IS ALL SO ORIGINAL
WHETHER IT IS CRAZY GENIUS AT HAND
WHEN THE HEAVENS HEAVE AND THREATEN
YES THE SKY MIGHT BREAK OPEN
YES THE SKY IS MADE OF GOSSAMER ETHER
YES THE ETHER IS MADE OF TRANSHUMAN MEMORY
YES THE MEMORY DRINKS IN RAIN
YES THE AUDIENCE IS AN OCEAN
WE WANT THE C.G.A. WEATHER TO LOOK
MORE WILD THAN WILDERNESS ALONE
WE WANT THE ENDING TO SHOCK US
WE WANT TO BE AWAKE
SO WAKE UP
CAN WE WAKE UP
LET'S WAKE UP
Margaret Christakos creates poetry, teaches, and thinks about forms of direct and indirect social address as part of her thirty-year artistic practice. She hails from Sudbury, Ontario, and lives in Toronto. Recent books include Multitudes and Her Paraphernalia: On Motherlines, Sex/Blood/Loss & Selfies. In Spring 2020 her new book charger is forthcoming.
WE WILL TELL THEM OF OUR DOMINION
First, we will tell them of our dominion
We will tell them of the web peeling back
in the heavens, the sun's maw radiating
We will tell them we can see the air
We will tell them green turned brown and grey
We will tell them green covered the earth
We will tell them of plastic islands
We will tell them of sands too hot to inhabit,
We will tell them of where people
cannot hold their breath forever
We will tell them of undulating obituaries
We will tell them of backroom deals, of slow-moving cogs
We will tell them of childhood depression
We will tell them of corporate footprints,
handprints, fingers in pies, stained red
We will tell them of mass delusion
We will tell them of moral misbehavior
We will tell them of fears for marble over feather and fur
We will tell them about the non-identity problem
We will tell them of the powerful two-faced
We will tell them why the scientists cried
We will tell them why the philosophers cried
We will tell them why the parents cried
We will tell them of carbon dioxide
shouts, of splintered protests
We will tell them of tear gas, of turned heads
We will tell them of laws broken
We will tell them of backs broken
We will tell them of turning, turning
Later, we will tell them the oil barons are dead
We will tell them guardians fought back
We will tell them a panacea was birthed from the Amazon ash
We will tell them blood is not translucent, but still pumping
We will tell them the ocean is still loud
We will tell them we relocated the sacred
We will tell them we refined our brains
We will tell them the sun is everything
We will tell them we were sorry
We will tell them we know why the sky is blue.
Terese Mason Pierre is a writer, editor, and organizer. Her work has appeared in The Hart House Review, The Temz Review, and others. She is the poetry editor of Augur Magazine and volunteers with Shab-e She'r poetry reading series. She lives and works in Toronto.
Watch Your Head is an online journal of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
New work is published monthly!
Check out our latest project: a print anthology published by Coach House Books!
Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis
Coach House Books
Sign up for our Newsletter